On February 22, 2021 mobs of licensed and unlicensed hunters swarmed the wilderness of Wisconsin drunk on the desire to kill any and all wolves that crossed their path. They used snowmobiles, GPS technology, traps, predator calls, and trained dogs to pursue the wolves to the point of exhaustion. In less than three days 99 more wolves were killed than the official set quota of 218. Wolves are not killed for food, and most hunters are not interested in the fur. The Wisconsin Wolf hunt was all about the love of killing⸺specifically this animal⸺the gray wolf. Political forces are already at work for an encore performance before the year is over.
State Republicans Playing Politics with Natural Resources
It is unfortunate that state Republicans are turning the management of natural resources into partisan political points to fight over. These resources are meant for all Americans to protect and enjoy. State biologists who are trained to examine the data and test scientific hypotheses as best they can with the information available have suggested a quota of 130. Many are concerned about having a second hunt this year but if it is going to go ahead then 130 is a conservative number in lieu of better data.
The state however ignored this recommendation and set the number at 300, way more than the first hunt of 2021. As far as anyone can tell, 300 is a number that may as well have been pulled out of a hat. It should be noted that hunting groups eager to kill as many wolves as quickly as possible advocated for an even higher number than this.
Wisconsin’s Wolf Hunt is Written into State Law
Around 10 years ago, Wisconsin state legislators passed a law that if wolves were ever de-listed from the endangered species act they would be mandated to hold a hunt. When the Trump administration de-listed wolves and the Biden administration failed to act, Wisconsin had to hold a wolf hunt. In fact, the state was sued to force the issue by Hunter Nation, a group run by Koch-affiliate Luke Hilgemann who pays Ted Nugent to promote their interests. Once lobbyists and special interest groups get involved, common sense dies pretty quick.
Now the Department of Natural Resources is being sued again. This time by conservation groups that include: Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife, and Project Coyote. The claim is that the quota of 300 came about from an illegal vote.
“The 300-wolf quota was decided by an illegal vote taken by an improper body, both influenced and ultimately decided by a person who was no longer a member of that body, based on political considerations that disregarded facts, science, and the expertise of agency biologists, and under the umbrella of an unconstitutional law,”KPVI.com
The whole process was super shady it seems…
“In a parody of reasoned deliberation, the board spurned the recommendations of DNR’s experts, disregarded science, and ignored the facts to arrive at a politically contrived conclusion that flouts the board’s constitutional and statutory responsibility to protect and conserve the state’s wildlife,” the lawsuit says. “Absent court intervention, the result will be another devastating blow to Wisconsin’s wolf population.”Associated Press
One specific board member, Fred Prehn, is mentioned directly in the lawsuit. He was appointed by the Koch-controlled previous Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. In another spat of childish dirty politics, he refuses to step down until state senators approve his replacement. Since the state senate is controlled by Republicans, the current Governor, Tony Evers, has been unable to get his nominee approved. One can only hope, Mr. Prehn will have to pay damages for his obstructive behavior if the suit succeeds.
The main points of the lawsuit are:
- Science was ignored by the DNR.
- It ignored its responsibility to protect wildlife in the state.
- The vote itself was not valid because Mr. Prehn no longer legally holds his position.
- Mr. Prehn purposely confused the board with a barrage of motions before leading up to the final quota vote.
Hunter Nation the Driving Force Behind Wisconsin’s Wolf Hunt
This group, Hunter Nation, run by Koch-affiliate Luke Hilgemann is filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit mentioned above. This was the group that sued to force the hunt in the first place.
“This is the latest frivolous attempt by the national anti-hunting groups to trample the rights of hunters in Wisconsin who are committed to responsibly manage our growing wolf population,” said Luke Hilgemann. “Following the Biden administration’s decision to not put wolves back under federal protection — a huge blow to the strategy of these national anti-hunting groups — we’ve seen them pull out all the stops in a desperate effort to end the statutorily required wolf hunt.”The CAP Times
The wolf hunt in Wisconsin has become a political line in the sand. On one side there are special interests, hunter groups, and the politicians pandering to these groups. On the other side are conservation groups, scientists, and nature lovers who are worried about the impact that unrestrained hunts with arbitrary high quotas will have.
Groups with ties to right-wing lobbyists like the Koch’s makes one wonder what is really driving these hunts. There are perhaps 600+ wolves in Wisconsin and 24,000 bears yet wolves are the focus. I’m not arguing that bears should face the same fate as wolves. I am arguing that the alleged effects on deer herds or observed damage to livestock may be due to many factors including other predators. It’s sad that time is not being given for the intelligent study of the situation before forging ahead with guns blazing.
Recommended: Featured Books on Never Cry Wolves
What can you do to Help?
- You should write to elected officials and tell them that you choose not to visit their state until they pick up the torch of science-based conservation again. I mean the whole point of visiting the outdoors is for a wilderness experience. A healthy predator population keeps nature in balance. These laws are not based on science but political pressure from agriculture, hunting groups, sportsmen businesses, and B-list celebrities like Ted Nugent.
- You could sign this petition on change.org